Day Three at the Crucible sees the conclusion of three more matches and the beginning of a further three, including the match that everyone in snooker is talking about as Ronnie O’Sullivan (1.25) takes on recent China Open winner and former World Champion Peter Ebdon (3.70).
Ronnie has been in much better form than he has been for some time and although much has been made of the importance of Ebdon’s tactics in this match, O’Sullivan has won all four meetings between the two since an infamous encounter here in 2005, Ebdon’s slowing tactics won the match for him against a mentally fragile Rocket.
There are lots of people predicting a similar spectacle in this match but I can’t see it. While Ebdon is in very good form, O’Sullivan is still capable of bullying opponents and with signs that his long-game is sharper than it has been for two or three seasons I expect him to have too much for Peter.
A much closer affair is expected between Matthew Stevens (1.72) and Marco Fu (2.05). Matthew has had some absolute thrillers here over the years including 3 semi-final appearances and a runner-up spot.
Marco has had a poor season by his standards and his current ranking reflects that, but he is still a class player on his day and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this one goes all the way.
The other match to get underway sees Stephen Lee (1.22) take on Andrew Higginson (4.00). Lee is in the form of his life currently but Higginson is a former ranking event winner and no pushover, so Lee may not have this all his own way.
On balance however, you have to side with the more experienced Lee. He has the better temperament of the two and at the Crucible that can buy you frames.
Best Bet: Stevens v Fu Over 16.5 frames (1.75)